Jason Kenney’s Convoluted Contradictions

Among other avenues, the 1977 Citizenship Act grants the right to citizenship to persons born in Canada. But if immigration and citizenship minister Jason Kenney gets his way, that right may soon be quashed. Kenney is proposing that there be no more automatic citizenship status for babies born on Canadian soil to foreign mothers. Jason Kenney is the cabinet minister who is regularly applauded for really understanding his portfolio. A sizeable and vocal number of Canadians – and among them, many new Canadians – support the many changes he has brought forward to strengthen Canadian citizenship. He has challenged human traffickers and unscrupulous immigration consultants. He has demonstrated in these and in other actions that Canada cares about human rights. As Kenney has stated, “we must protect the values of Canadian citizenship and must take steps against those who cheapen it”.

In 2007 Kenney amended the rules to allow for immediate Canadian citizenship status for babies adopted from a foreign country by a Canadian parent. Previously, Canadians who adopted internationally had to apply for the child’s citizenship status through the lengthy and arduous permanent residence process. This change ostensibly minimized the differential status between children born in Canada and children adopted into Canada. Equality rights triumphed and the move to ensure all children of Canadians (however they were begot) had equal rights in the form of Canadian citizenship was widely celebrated. How could we argue against loving Canadian prospective parents wanting Canadian citizenship rights for “their” child? Rights to live equally and freely and under the protection of human rights.

The majority of children who migrate to Canada for adoption purposes are from China. China has one of the world’s worst records for human rights – and, specifically, child rights. Yet last week, news headlines screamed that “Chinese women are gaming the system” by having their babies in Canada; with plans to secure some possible future as sponsored family members.

In a statement to Sun News on February 22, 2012, Kenney spokesperson Candice Malcolm said “We are aware of crooked consultants who encourage pregnant women to illegally travel to Canada to give birth and gain access to Canada’s considerable benefits”. These same babies, were they born in China and relinquished for adoption to Canadians, would be warmly welcomed by the federal government and given immediate citizenship status and rights.

Kenney’s proposed changes would deny citizenship to babies born on Canadian soil but would confer automatic citizenship rights to children born on foreign soil.

Is contradiction now a Canadian value?

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